Supply Chain Attacks: Navigating a Connected World with Confidence and Care

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

In our increasingly interconnected world, your business depends on an extensive network of suppliers and vendors to help you run your business. However, this interconnectivity presents opportunities for cybercriminals to launch supply chain attacks. In this post, we'll explore the unique nature of supply chain attacks and offer practical steps you can take to safeguard your business.

Understanding the Uniqueness of Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks stand apart from traditional cyberattacks because they target a company's third-party suppliers rather than the company itself. Cybercriminals may take advantage of a vulnerability in software or hardware products provided by a company's suppliers to gain access to its network and steal sensitive information. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect and prevent these types of attacks since it is hard to detect the source of the attack.

Another challenge in defending against supply chain attacks is that you may be unaware of the security practices of your suppliers, or you lack the technical expertise to detect and respond promptly to an attack.

Lessons from a Real World Supply Chain Attack

One of the most significant supply chain attacks in recent years was the Target data breach. In 2013, Target, a US-based retailer, suffered a massive data breach that compromised the personal and financial information of millions of customers. The attack was initiated through a third-party HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractor that had access to Target's network. The attackers were able to steal the contractor's login credentials and use them to gain access to Target's network and steal the data.

Empowering Your Business to Face Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks are not limited to large corporations like Target. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are also at risk of supply chain attacks, as they often rely on third-party vendors and suppliers for a range of services, such as IT support, payroll processing, and marketing.

One of the reasons why SMBs are particularly vulnerable is that they may not have the same level of cybersecurity resources and expertise as larger organizations. This can make it easier for attackers to infiltrate their supply chain and gain access to their systems or data.

In addition, SMBs may not have the leverage to negotiate stringent cybersecurity requirements with their vendors and suppliers, which can also increase their risk of supply chain attacks.

It's worth noting that supply chain attacks can occur in any industry, including healthcare, finance, education, and government. Any organization that relies on third-party vendors or suppliers is potentially at risk.

Arming yourself with the right knowledge can help you minimize your risk. 

Key Strategies to Consider:

  • Thoroughly Vet Your Vendors and Suppliers

    One of the best ways to protect your business from supply chain attacks is to meticulously assess your vendors and suppliers. This includes evaluating their security practices, conducting background checks, and ensuring they comply with industry standards and regulations.

  • Cultivate a Culture of Security

    Another important step is fostering a culture of security within your organization. Educate your employees about the risks of supply chain attacks and encourage them to report any suspicious activity. This can help create a sense of awareness and vigilance that can significantly contribute to preventing supply chain attacks. It's also essential to establish clear channels of communication for reporting security incidents and ensure that employees know who to contact in case of a security breach.

  • Implement Robust Security Protocols and Procedures

    To shield your business from supply chain attacks, it's essential to establish robust security protocols and procedures. This includes setting up secure communication channels with suppliers, implementing multi-factor authentication, and introducing access controls to limit the damage that an attack can cause.

Regularly Monitor the Security of Your Supply Chain

Protect your business from supply chain attacks by consistently monitoring the security of your supply chain. This includes using security tools and techniques to detect and respond to potential attacks, as well as conducting regular risk assessments to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

To monitor the security of your supply chain, you can take the following steps:
  1. Conduct a security assessment: Conduct a security assessment of your vendors and suppliers to identify any potential vulnerabilities or risks. This assessment should evaluate the security controls and policies in place, including access controls, encryption, and incident response plans.

  2. Develop a security policy: Establish a security policy that outlines the requirements for vendors and suppliers to protect your systems and data. This policy should specify the security measures that vendors and suppliers must implement, such as regular security audits and multi-factor authentication.

  3. Require cybersecurity certifications: You can require vendors and suppliers to obtain cybersecurity certifications, such as ISO 27001 or SOC 2, to demonstrate their commitment to security.

  4. Regularly review vendor contracts: You should regularly review vendor contracts to ensure that they include appropriate security provisions, such as data protection clauses and breach notification requirements.

  5. Monitor vendor activity: Monitor the activity of your vendors and suppliers to detect any suspicious behavior or unauthorized access. This can include reviewing access logs and network activity, and conducting periodic security audits.

  6. Establish incident response protocols: Establish incident response protocols in case of a security breach or incident involving a vendor or supplier. This should include procedures for notification, containment, and remediation.

Remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing process, and you should regularly review and update your security measures to keep pace with evolving threats and risks.

We understand that supply chain attacks pose a significant threat to your business and your customers. By taking practical steps to protect your business, such as thoroughly vetting your vendors and suppliers, building a culture of security, implementing robust security protocols and procedures, and regularly monitoring the security of your supply chain, you can reduce your risk of a successful attack and protect your sensitive information.

Lockwell’s got your back. By working together, we can help you protect what matters most while growing your business in a connected world.